Thursday, October 22, 2020



Speaking of being excited, this is a picture of me around four or five years old. I remember that Christmas very well. In the country, we did not have much in those days, but I remember waking up on Christmas day so excited that I was actually shaking terribly. I don't remember what I got that year, but I am sure it was one small toy with some candy and fruit. Back then, candy was rare during the year except for Christmas and Easter.

The thing I remember most about that Christmas is that even a small toy and some candy, when you didn't have a lot, could bring an amazing amount of excitement and appreciation. 

My hope is to be able to help bring about a bit of that excitement and appreciation to some of the children down in the Caribbean missions.  

 A few of the twenty-four children at Saint Benedict's Home for Children, Sisters Nyra Anne and Carmen, myself and one of the care-takers. 

In talking to Sister Nyra Anne, it seems there are greater needs than toys. She is trying to open up a second housing unit to separate the boys from the girls. She needs help furnishing it. 

We would like to thank those who have so far sent gifts for Christmas. Below is a photo of the newly constructed  bunkbeds and mattress covers for Unit Two (boys) awaiting other furnishings that have not so far been sponsored. 

I promised Sister Nyra Anne to help with that, but I thought we still needed to have something under the tree for each child. This is what we agreed to do. 

This year we will give each child $25.00 USD. Out of that, each child will make a donation to the parish Christmas collection where they go to church. (I like to add a teaching element to everything we do down there.) We want to teach them to be givers, not just takers. Out of what's left, they will go shopping for their own Christmas present in Kingstown and have lunch at the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sister will teach them something about Kentucky and where their gifts came from in the USA. (I have provided a world map, a United States map and a Kentucky map along with some pictures of famous Kentuckians and places.)  (Again, I like to add a teaching element to everything we do down there.) If they have any change left over, it will go into their personal savings accounts that we are setting up for each child. I believe that the knowledge each child will have that they actually have a little growing "nest egg" will have a profound affect on their self-esteem and morale.  

The savings accounts are a new idea, but a very important one. In the past, when and if it was time to leave the Home they had nothing to begin a new life outside.  We will continue to put small amounts into their savings accounts as we go along. 

If you would like to help, here is the answer. You still have time. 

Saint Bartholomew Church-SVG Mission Fund 

Father Ronald Knott
1271 Parkway Gardens Court #106
Louisville, KY 40217



Tuesday, October 20, 2020


When I started my column in The Record almost twenty years ago, I never imagined that I could produce a piece of writing  every week for fifteen years. Doing anything every week for fifteen years takes a lot of effort and concentration. 

When I started this blog five years ago, I could not imagine that I would be posting something approximately every other day during those five years. Here are the statistics: 


215,000 PAGE VIEWS


We have all heard that "it takes a village to raise a child." I would add that "it takes a team to produce a bog." Today I want to salute two people who help keep this blog going. 

Tim Schoenbachler, editor-publisher-cover designer of most of my books and thank-you cards, helped me set up the design for this blog and helps me work through problems that I have with postings. 
If you need to start your own blog or publish a book, I can put you in contact with him as I have done for several others. His prices are excellent. 
Gary Marvin, a seminary classmate, helps me with technology (computer and iphone). He either talks me through the resolution of the problem or he actually drives over and helps me in person when necessary. 


Sunday, October 18, 2020



Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar

and to God what belongs to God.

Matthew 22

Even though the gospel today is about the relationship of “church and state” loosely, I know better than mention American politics in today’s explosive climate. I do, however, have a little history lesson for those of you who are quite a bit younger than me. It has to do with an important Kentucky “church and state” court decision that I lived through as a child.  

While I was in the fifth grade, around 1955 I believe, our parish Catholic school became a public school. The nuns who taught us stayed on as teachers, but since their salaries came from the public school system and we have the separation of church and state in this country, the courts said that we could no longer be a religious school if we wanted to keep getting state tax funds. The court case actually came from a case involving one of the parishes in central Kentucky where I was pastor before I came here in 1983.

Overnight we changed our name from Saint Theresa School to Cross Roads School. The nuns had to quit teaching religion, making religious references and remove all religious symbols from the building. They were allowed to keep wearing their religious habits and were actually paid a salary by the county. Even though we officially became “Cross Roads School,” “Saint Theresa School” which remained chiseled in stone over the doors” was never removed. It remains there today even though the school has long since closed.

We were allowed, for several years after that, to be released one hour a week to go to the church next door for religious instructions. Religious instruction had to be optional and held off site.

This arrangement had its benefits: the parish did not have to come up with the money to pay teachers, we still got religious instruction and the county paid the Sisters of Charity rent on the school building since they owned it. Even though this change had its benefits, it was painful. I can still remember the day that I saw one of the nuns standing by the water fountain as the janitor took the big crucifix down and handed it to her to be taken away. That day, at the age of ten, I learned my first life lesson on the advantages and disadvantages of the separation of church and state.

Today’s Scripture passage is about the relationship between faith life and civil life.  Jesus and his followers were Jews living in a country occupied by the Roman Empire. Their religion was tolerated by the Roman government, but they were obliged to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor. The Jewish people resented paying civil taxes because they wanted to be a Jewish state with God as their king.  Taxes and control were sore spots for the Roman government, as well as for the Jewish people. This delicate balance was always in danger of boiling over into conflict, just as it is today. There are always “church and state issues” before the Supreme Court: prayer in public schools, religious symbols and words on state and federal property and a host of other issues.

It was in this volatile environment that Jesus was confronted with a loaded question. The question sounds harmless on the surface, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?,” but it was a cleverly framed question to embarrass Jesus in front of his fans, a trick question to trap Jesus in his speech.  It was get-even time for his critics, or at least they thought.

If Jesus said that it was OK to pay taxes to Rome, those who wanted a Jewish state would turn against him. If Jesus said it was not OK to pay taxes to Rome, the Roman government would arrest him and take him to jail. Jesus outwitted them with his wise and insightful answer, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” The first Letter of Peter puts it this way, “Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

This advice is as good today as it was then. Every Christian has dual citizenship. He is a citizen of the country in which he lives and he is also a citizen of heaven.  There are times when the state ought to stay out of church matters and there are times when the church ought to stay out of state matters.

It was a tricky balance then. It is a tricky balance now. History teaches us that we have run off both sides of the road. There are disaster stories where governments have made religion illegal and just as many, if not more, disaster stories of religions taking over government. Even in a country like ours, the United Sates Bishops’ Conference has a whole Committee on Religious Liberty, because they think the government is infringing on the rights of religion and we have others, like President Ronald Reagan’s son in his “freedom from religion” TV ad, who think that our government should be totally free from religious intrusions.

History, I believe, has taught us the wisdom of the separation of church and state. As fragile as it is, it is the only way religious freedom can be insured for the masses who hold a variety of religious beliefs.  Our own constitutional principle of the separation of church and state guarantees freedom of religion as well as freedom from religion. Believers are free to practice their religion and non-believers are just as free not to practice any religion, if they choose. It is a good arrangement, an arrangement that seems to work, even if not perfectly, in today’s multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religion world, something I would hope both secular humanists and the Christian right remember in their power struggle.

As Catholics, we need to be reminded, from time to time, that we have been both perpetrators, as well as victims, when it comes to religious freedom. At times and in places, we have forced our religion on to others. Other times, as in the early days of this country, there were many places in the Colonies where we were not allowed to openly practice our religion. As Catholics, we need to remember as well that our faith has been strongest when we have been under persecution and weakest when we have been in the privileged position.